12th Forum 2000: “Openness and Fundamentalism in the 21st Century”

Prague, Czech Republic

In 1997, the hopes and worries of the world were building toward the 21st Century. That year, President Vaclav Havel came to me and proposed an idea to which I wholeheartedly agreed. It was an idea that has had a broad and lasting effect on the world of today. That was the beginning of Forum 2000, this initiative through which we continue to seek a common perspective on our future through dialog on the fundamental problems facing society.

In the twelve years since then, his efforts to seek a moral minimum that will bring order to the world have been magnificent. He has built mutual understanding and trusting relationships among the many leaders who have attended this forum.The contributions of this initiative, such as the open letters produced by The Shared Concerned Initiative, have been significant, to bring about changes in the world.

Nevertheless, having moved through a century of war, we now face a world in disorder. The factors that contribute to this reality, such as differences in values, creeds, and religions, are so complex that it is impossible to name one particular cause for our situation. That is why we need intellectuals like you. Individuals with a sense of responsibility. People who can resolve these complexities and create a vantage point from which others can objectively consider the world around them.

In the twelve years of this forum, I have realized that, while it is important to build systems of just governance, solutions can often be found through cultural and spiritual approaches. My own work confirms this, time and time again. It is a true inspiration to know that it is these human aspects that are the most important.

I work in the field of philanthropy. In my work, I constantly face the questions of how to bridge the natural gaps between human beings. Questions about how to provide an environment in which people can live a dignified, spiritually rich and peaceful life. My work exposes me to the conflicts people face day in and day out. Conflicts resulting from poverty. From discrimination. From injustice. I believe it is vital to approach these problems with consideration and compassion. To understand their cultural and spiritual aspects.

We live in challenging times. Times that challenge this forum to consider society and human nature in depth. It is true that we will not be able to provide easy answers to every issue. However, our calm and balanced dialog here is the best means to grasp the essence of our most pressing problems. It is of immense value to mankind. I sincerely hope that the results of this forum will guide not only ourselves, but also future generations, along a moral path.

I welcome each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart. I am excited to be able to participate and looking forward to an inspired and productive dialogue between all participants.